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AFA ends boycott of McDonald’s

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The American Family Association announced Oct. 9 an end to the boycott it had organized against McDonald’s, citing the restaurant chain’s willingness to “remain neutral in the culture war regarding homosexual marriage.”

“McDonald’s said McDonald’s Vice President Richard Ellis has resigned his position on the board of [National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce] and that his seat on the board will not be replaced,” AFA founder and chairman Don Wildmon wrote in an e-mail alert to the pro-family organization’s 2.4 million supporters. “McDonald’s also said that the company has no plans to renew their membership in NGLCC when it expires in December.”

The alert went on to say that McDonald’s sent an e-mail to its franchise owners, stating, “It is our policy to not be involved in political and social issues. McDonald’s remains neutral on same sex marriage or any ‘homosexual agenda’ as defined by the American Family Association.”

“We appreciate the decision by McDonald’s to no longer support political activity by homosexual activist organizations. You might want to thank your local McDonald’s manager,” Wildmon wrote.

AFA launched the boycott July 3 after Jack Daly, a McDonald’s senior vice president, confirmed that the chain gave $20,000 to the chamber of commerce and that Ellis, an open homosexual, personally approved the contribution. Talks between AFA and McDonald’s had been unsuccessful, so AFA urged its supporters not to give McDonald’s their business.

Despite AFA’s declaration of victory, a news release on the website for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Oct. 9 said, “There has been no discussion between the NGLCC and McDonalds regarding continuing membership, nor has the NGLCC been notified of any move not to renew our work together.”

McDonald’s still is listed as a corporate partner on the chamber of commerce website, but Ellis is no longer listed as a member of the board of directors.

Michael Deprimo, an AFA spokesman, pointed Baptist Press to a Sept. 25 blog entry at PRWeek.com, which said Ellis returned to McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada as senior vice president of communications and public affairs and president of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Baptist Press asked Deprimo for a copy of the e-mail from McDonald’s to its franchise owners that Wildmon quoted in his alert, but Deprimo declined.

“We obtained the information from a franchise owner. For obvious reasons, we will not name him/her,” Deprimo wrote in an e-mail to BP.

An Oct. 9 news release on the AFA website said AFA is ending the boycott because “McDonald’s has notified the organization” that Ellis has resigned from the chamber of commerce. Baptist Press asked Deprimo how AFA was notified, and he said it was a telephone conversation between Daly and Tim Wildmon, AFA’s president, Oct. 3.

Baptist Press placed calls to check with both Daly’s office and Wildmon’s office to confirm the conversation, but those calls were not returned by press time.

Felicia Powers, a spokeswoman for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, told BP the statement on their website was the only statement they were making regarding AFA and McDonald’s. When BP asked if Ellis was removed from the board of directors simply because he moved to Canada or if there was another reason, Powers said, “Pretty much the only thing we released today was this statement.”

According to the chamber’s website, “Advocacy is a top priority for the NGLCC, whether it’s lobbying Congress or the White House, commenting on regulatory issues or working with leaders throughout America’s top corporations to bring about equality, opportunity and change. The NGLCC has quickly moved to become the LGBT business voice in Washington, on Wall Street, and down Main Street USA.”

In comments reported by The Washington Post in July, McDonald’s spokesman Bill Whitman reiterated the company’s commitment to inclusion.

“Hatred has no place in our culture,” Whitman said. “That includes McDonald’s, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment.”

WorldNetDaily reported Oct. 9 that Whitman confirmed that Ellis “made a personal decision to step down” from the chamber of commerce after he took the new position in Canada, and a post by blogger Jeff Bercovici at portfolio.com reported that a McDonald’s spokeswoman said, “McDonald’s has no plan to fill his seat [on the board] because it’s not our seat to fill.”
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

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